KOKOMO — Basketball is the Burrus’ family business.
Hailing from Denver, the patriarch, John, has been a head boys basketball coach in Indiana for the better part of the last two decades, leading his alma mater’s program, North Miami, for eight years before taking over Southwood’s program, where he will enter his seventh season this fall.
The oldest child, Joel, played for his father at North Miami, and later was an assistant coach under him at Southwood before serving as an assistant coach under Jace Thompson at Indiana University Kokomo. He is now the head boys coach at Lakeland Christian Academy in Winona Lake.
The middle child, Alicia, played college basketball at Huntington University, and was recently named the head girls coach at Traders Point Christian Academy in Whitestown.
Then, there’s the baby, Lael. Although a markedly talented basketball player, Lael opted to concentrate on volleyball after her sophomore year of high school. The decision, which seemed unlikely all those years ago simply due to the intense love her family shared for basketball, has paid great dividends for her. Now a junior in the IU Kokomo volleyball program, Lael has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the NAIA as the Cougars’ libero.
“I would definitely say that I have a basketball mindset, so that’s something crazy to think about because I’m playing college volleyball,” she said. “I think that’s something that’s maybe helped me in the longrun. My dad keeps the volleyball things to my coach, but he’s really good at the mental aspect of athletics, in general. Occasionally, he’ll throw in a comparison to basketball to help me see something.”
Lael entered last weekend with 382 digs, which was tied for the 19th most in the NAIA. Her defensive prowess has helped the Cougars bolt out of the gates to an 23-6 start to the season in the just the program’s third year of existence. One of the elder stateswomen of the program as a junior, Burrus’ leadership skills have also landed her the role of captain.